Click the Like button to get updates directly in your Facebook feed

Training Plan: Your First Marathon

Coach Brendan Cournane's 20-week program for your debut 26.2


Brendan Cournane—You are a marathon finisher!” Ever imagine hearing the announcer shout those words as you cross the finish line surrounded by a roaring crowd?

For many runners, completing a full marathon seems like a pipe dream. There’s no denying that 26.2 miles is a long way to go—but it’s not an impossible distance. If you can race a 10k, you can run a marathon. All it takes is time, training and perseverance.

This program was designed with first-timers in mind. You will run four days a week, and the majority of your workouts will be six miles or less. With just one additional day of cross training and two full days of rest, the following plan can easily be balanced with the demands of a family, career and social life. You can do this!

As you prepare for your marathon journey, keep these lessons in mind...

Start Small, Finish Big
If the idea of running more than 20 miles is intimidating, focus on where you are, not where you’re going. When following this plan, you will increase your mileage gradually (by no more than 10 percent per week). As the weeks of training add up, the thought of completing a marathon will slowly morph from impossible to possible—to undeniable when you cross that line. If you stick with it, you will get there in time.

Quality Over Quantity
Even with careful planning, life sometimes gets in the way. Over the course of 20 weeks, you’re bound to skip a workout here and there. When the unexpected happens, prioritize. Your long runs are the most important workouts, as they will help you build the endurance necessary to finish a marathon. Sacrifice easy workouts first and tempo runs second before you let the long runs fall by the wayside. Remember, performing part of a workout is better than skipping it altogether.

Stay Self-Aware
Consider your current abilities. Can you finish six miles comfortably? If not, take time to build up to that level before starting this program. There is no rush. When completing your workouts, run at a pace that is true to your own fitness level. Don’t compare yourself to a friend, family member, running partner—or even the runner you were last year or last month. Your training will be most successful when you listen to your body.

Rest Up
Adequate rest is just as important as proper training. This plan includes two rest days per week for a reason: Your body needs to recover from the stress of training to stay healthy. Never perform workouts on designated rest days. Enjoy your time off so you’re fresh and ready for the next challenge your training will bring.

Training Plan Glossary
Cross Train (XT)—Perform non-running activities, such as bicycling, swimming, yoga, Pilates and weight lifting. Cross training builds aerobic fitness while giving your joints and muscles a break from running.

Easy Effort Run (EZ)—Run the distance indicated at an easy pace. Your breathing should remain relaxed throughout the entire workout, and you should be able to talk comfortably in complete sentences.

Hilly Run (H)—Combined with a tempo workout or an easy run, “+H” indicates that the workout should be performed on rolling terrain.

Long Slow Distance Run (LSD)—Perform all long runs at a slow, easy pace unless otherwise indicated. These are the most important workouts in your marathon-training plan.

Marathon Pace (MP)—This is your projected marathon race pace. Some runs will incorporate a few miles of MP to better prepare you for your race. If you do not have a goal marathon pace, run MP miles at a pace that’s 30 to 45 seconds faster per mile than your normal LSD pace.

Negative Split (NS)—Run the first half of this workout at an easy pace. Then gradually increase your pace, aiming to cover the same distance 1 to 3 minutes faster in the second half of the run. (If the workout is “6 Miles NS,” the first 3 miles should be run EZ, and the next 3 should be run 20 to 60 seconds faster per mile than EZ).

Rest—Don’t do anything active. It’s extremely important to rest so your body can properly recover.

Your First Marathon Training Plan

Click here for a pdf version on the plan.

 

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

1

Rest

5 Miles EZ

30-40 Min XT

4 Miles EZ

6 Miles EZ

Rest

6 Miles LSD

2

Rest

5 Miles EZ

30-40 Min XT

4 Miles EZ

6 Miles EZ

Rest

8 Miles LSD

3

Rest

5 Miles EZ

30-40 Min XT

5 Miles EZ

6 Miles EZ

Rest

9 Miles LSD

4

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles EZ

5 Miles EZ

Rest

10 Miles LSD

5

Rest

5 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles EZ

5 Miles EZ

Rest

8 Miles LSD

6

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

5 Miles T

5 Miles EZ

Rest

12 Miles LSD

7

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

5 Miles T+H

5 Miles EZ

Rest

13 Miles LSD

8

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

5 Miles NS

5 Miles EZ

Rest

10 Miles LSD

9

Rest

7 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles T

5 Miles EZ

Rest

14 Miles LSD

10

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles NS

5 Miles EZ

Rest

10 Miles LSD

11

Rest

7 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles T+H

5 Miles EZ

Rest

16 Miles LSD

12

Rest

7 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles NS

7 Miles EZ

Rest

10 Miles LSD (Miles 3-5 @ MP)

13

Rest

7 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles T+H

5 Miles EZ

Rest

17 Miles LSD

14

Rest

7 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles T

7 Miles EZ

Rest

12 Miles

15

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

7 Miles EZ+H

5 Miles EZ

Rest

18 Miles LSD (Miles 9-12 @ MP)

16

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

5 Miles T

6 Miles EZ

Rest

13 Miles LSD

17

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles

(Miles 3-4 @ MP)

6 Miles EZ

Rest

20 Miles LSD

18

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

7 Miles NS

7 Miles EZ

Rest

12 Miles LSD

(Miles 3-7 @ MP)

19

Rest

6 Miles EZ

45-50 Min XT

6 Miles

 (Miles 3-4 @ MP)

3 Miles EZ

Rest

8 Miles LSD

(Miles 3-6 @ MP)

20

Rest

4 Miles (Miles 2-3 @ MP)

Rest

4 Miles(Miles 2-3 @ MP)

Rest

25 Min @ MP

26.2 Miles

RACE DAY!

________________________________________________

Brendan Cournane is a USATF- and RRCA-certified running coach and motivational speaker based in Chicago. Cournane has completed more than 80 marathons, including marathons in all 50 states. Learn more about him at coachbrendan.com.

Comment on this story


0
3
2 Ratings
xxxxxxx
Related Searches
Like this story? Get the Active Times Updates
Get The Active Times in your inbox


Today on The Active Times
The Active Times Video Network
The Perfect Runner (trailer)
Anthropologist Niobe Thompson takes a look at why humans' biological background makes us so well-suited for running in .

Comment on This Story